Rural Virginia Schoolhouse on a Picturesque Creek

Snake Creek School House | Carroll County, VA | c. 1907

Although sparsely populated today, Carroll County was even more remote in 1910 when farmer James F. Martin built his 13-room residence in a narrow valley bordering Snake Creek.

On this land just a few years earlier, the community had built this two-room school house (sometime before 1907). In 1916, it was incorporated into the county school system and James’ second wife, Nettie Martin, would teach at this school across from their home from 1939 until its closing in 1955 when it reverted to her ownership.

Nettie Mae Largen was born November 26, 1890. Through pursuing and borrowing from her father, she finished high school and earned her teacher’s certificate at Radford State Teachers College. She was 18 years old when she taught her first school and she taught 19 schools before she was married. She also worked in an office for the Coal & Coke Company in West Virginia for a period of time.

Nettie Martin seldom weighed more than 100 pounds, but she had endless energy. She always planted and tended a large garden. She loved to watch things grow. She could be found in her garden almost daily from the last frost until harvest.. Any neighbor who stopped to chat often left with a bucket of green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. She managed to have garden products earlier than most of her neighbors. She would never spray insects in the garden. She had her own system of banging two Clorox bottles together, which caused the beetles to fall to the ground. The stubborn beetles would be picked by hand from the vine. She felt that spray mishandled could be harmful to ones health.

The salary for teaching was low. From her first pay check she bought a suit for her father. The cost was ten dollars. Nettie was thrifty, looking for ways to save. During World War II she took her entire pay check, which was $100.00 monthly, in defense bonds.

Nettie Martin lived almost a century as a teacher, a farmer and community leader. She always enjoyed reflecting on her past. She kept a sense of humor and a pride and faith in young people.

Nettie Martin died at the age of 93 on May 1, 1983.

In 2010, the schoolhouse and Martin home were added to the National Historic Register.

Thank you to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for the history on this building and to MountainLaurel.com for the memorial information on Nettie Martin.

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